Jan 1, 2007 at 6:25 am #1221016
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
My MIL gave me a copy of "Sewing For The Outdoors, A Seamster's Guide" by Hal Zina Bennett. She had picked up this 1980 chestnut at a used book store (my FIL is a an avid used book store freak).
Anyhoo, even for it's age, it is a great book, with some very easy to do ideas of projects like stuff sacks. I found it interesting that he talks of light weight backpacking in the book-27 years ago ;-)
I should be having some fun with the book in the next couple months to say the least.Jan 1, 2007 at 7:39 am #1372588
@vickrhinesLocale: Central Texas
You said, "I found it interesting that he talks of light weight backpacking in the book-27 years ago ;-)"
27 years is nothin'. UL has been around much longer than that, let alone simple light weight backpacking. UL backpacking was revived and revised for new materials by Gerry Cunningham, a school teacher in Boulder, in the early and mid 1960s through about 1980. I still have some of his stuff sold under Gerry Equipment, Inc. He sold the company in the 1980s and went back to teaching and sailing. Look for his book, LIGHTWEIGHT CAMPING EQUIPMENT AND HOW TO MAKE IT. Amazon has it.
Gerry designed and made complete systems: lightweight (for the time) load-control packs (stay frame, no belt); compact butane stoves, down gear and so on. I designed the first polyester bag sold under the Gerry brand. In 1972 or 73, it was probably the first backpackable poly bag sold commercially.
Gerry advocated low weights and used as a goal 18 pounds total weight (including consumables) for a summer's weekend in the Colorado Rockies. The same gear made with the current generation of materials would probably go down to about 10 or 11 pounds.
IOW, Gerry Cunningham was the 60's version of Ray Jardine. UL happened again about 1980 – without a dominant guru. Various makers put out UL packs and other gear. The periodic rebirth and fading away of UL has been of interest to me since the 1970s when I first noticed it. There are economic reasons UL fades — it is not compatible with modern business practice. A few folks keep it alive, then someone writes a persuasive book or article and UL pops back up with a big AH!HA!
When you check Amazon, check my 1980 book LIGHTWEIGHT CAMPING AND HIKING GEAR AND HOW TO MAKE IT. It represents OLD stuff I developed in the 1970s, so I consider it more a curiosity than anything serious.Jan 1, 2007 at 9:42 am #1372592
@christownsendLocale: Cairngorms National Park
Ultralight is just about as old as recreational backpacking and mountaineering. In 1905 Thomas Hiram Holding produced a kit for the "self-propelled camper" including silk tent, ground blanket, down quilt and cooking apparatus that weighed 6lbs. in 1903 two alpinists called W.T.Kirkpatrick and R.Philip Hopemade their own packs, which weighed just 6oz. Kirkpatrick wrote "extra clothing and other necessary equipment can be reduced by careful selection, and by considering every ounce, and even fractions of an ounce, to a very light weight".Jan 1, 2007 at 10:47 am #1372595
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Chris, you got me curious about the three people you mentioned so I checked them out. I've been looking around for information on the history of going light for quite some time now, including reading the posts on Mallory at Outdoor Magic. The more I read the more I come to the conclusion that backpacking with lightweight methods is definitely not a recent phenomenon. People have probably been doing it ever since we first started walking long distances. Certainly when I travel around here in Japan and see some of the really old timers, like the backwoods foresters, mountain edible plant gatherers, and mountain creek fishermen… one of whom carried two mandarin oranges for his entire day's meal… and their extremely simple assortment of gear I have to ask about the extent of my knowledge and of their toughness. Recently in the biggest backpacking magazine in Japan, "Yama to Keikoku" (Mountains and Valleys), there was an article on an 81 year old man who has been walking, non-stop, for over 8000 days every day the same range of mountains with just an old ski pole, an umbrella, a day pack, a homemade, waterproofed straw hat, a trenchcoat, a machete-like knife, a pair of rubber boots, and a shawl-like waterproof canvas throw that he drapes over his shoulders and pack when it rains. His toughness and simplicity and complete lack of need for all the stuff we here all seem to need so badly puts me to shame. Now he's aiming for 9,000 days.
I checked out Thomas Hiram Holding and came across the ALC, the Association of Lightweight Campers… founded in 1901. Doubtless we could continue to go further and further back. The Ice Man traveled very light in the mountains, too. Even today the San (the Bushmen) in Africa travel with nothing but a bow and some arrows. I think we have a lot to learn about going light.Jan 1, 2007 at 1:04 pm #1372604
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Intresting, I have a feeling I may have read your book in the past, Vick. Now you have me looking for a copy of it!
(I am 33, so for me, while I have vague memories of the late 70's, I came into backpacking at the height of heavy gear (the early 90's).)Jan 1, 2007 at 1:46 pm #1372612
"Going Light with Backpack or Burro: How to Get Along on Wilderness Trails (Chiefly in the West)"; Brower, David R., Ed.; 1951; The Sierra Club.
"A painful sight for an old-time backpacker is to see a group of tenderfeet full of enthusiasm and expectation of a joyful vacation but loaded down with burdensome and inadequate equipment…"
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